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in collaboration with Eco Hair and Beauty and Green Salon Collective // funding from UK Research and Innovation // support from L'Oréal, Wella, Aveda and Toni & Guy // research assistance from Stephanie Hodgson
ECO TIP 1: Most of us use too much shampoo and shampoo too often.
This is true. Most of us use too much shampoo and shampoo more often than is ideal or even necessary. Too much hot water and chemicals isn’t good for your hair condition, skin, planet or your bills.
Read on for:
Shampoo contains chemicals such as sodium lauryl sulphate which strip the oil from the hair (made worse if water is too hot) and can be very harsh on your skin and hair.
EXPERT TIP: Washing hair in tepid or lukewarm water rather than hot water is better for the follicles and overall hair condition. It is also less ageing on the skin and less likely to irritate the skin especially if using shampoo or shower gels, which often contain harsh chemicals.
Obviously you will use less shampoo by washing less often but the real savings are in your bills. Reducing the amount/frequency of washing your hair can result in cost savings as electricity and water usage is reduced. Heating water is the most expensive thing we do in our homes – a hot shower costs between 50 and 100 times more per minute than leaving the television or computer on for example.
EXPERT TIP: Wash your hair in tepid or lukewarm water rather than hot water – this also saves money!
Water is becoming a scarce resource (yes even in the UK!) so shampooing less saves water.
Also, heating water produces greenhouse gas emissions.
For example, if you shampoo, rinse and repeat using running hot water for 8 minutes every day, this amounts to approximately 7kg of CO2 emissions per week.
If you shampoo just once, reducing your hot water running time by 2 minutes and just shampooing once a week (supplemented by a dry shampoo midweek) the carbon footprint goes down to 0.75 Kg of CO2 – you haven’t just reduced your carbon footprint by ten or twenty per cent – you are now ten times more eco-friendly.
1: Shampooing less often saves time. If you share a bathroom with others this can be a real bonus!
2. Most products like shampoo contain palm oil which is associated with deforestation, climate change, air pollution and habitat loss.
3. Often you can get several more shampoos out of the container by rinsing with water and swirling around. This also dilutes the shampoo making it kinder to the hair and skin.
4. Try dry shampoo as a way to boost a shampoo several days ago or simply alternate shampoo and dry shampoo days.
Many of the above issues apply just as well to other household activities that involve hot water. Showering for less time, filling the kettle only as far as necessary and washing clothes only when you need to are all ways to save money and help the planet.
Laundry detergents are now designed to wash clothes at 30 degrees not 40 or 60. If you look at the washing instructions on your clothes/bedding, very few ask for temperatures above 40.
If you have stubborn stains, it is much better to pre-soak and use a stain remover than to hammer the fabric with excessively high temperatures for a long time.
Scientists are increasingly realising that our body and skin is protected by its own healthy bacteria which fights off germs and viruses. Therefore if we wash too long with too many chemicals, not only are we washing off unwanted bacteria – we are washing off our skin’s natural protective bacteria.
Many people are switching to probiotic cleaning products which have been proven in tests to work for much longer than conventional anti-bacterial cleaning products for just that reason – a recent study showed that probiotic cleaners and soap were more effective at dealing with harmful bacteria than detergent.
Just as overuse of antibiotics can destroy your body's ‘good’ gut bacteria, too many washing products like shampoo and shower gel can impair the effectiveness of your skin’s natural ‘good’ bacteria. Hair colour and bleach is especially harsh.
Many cleaning products, not just shampoos and shower gels, but also detergents that include ammonia and/or bleach are toxic and release volatile organic compounds that can be bad for our health. In tests, simple baking powder and white vinegar is almost always at least as effective as the harsh detergents, and much cheaper and less toxic to our health and the environment.
Some people swear by going without shampoo at all and others have tried and find their hair becomes lank – we are all different and also what works with our hair changes as we get older. But it’s true that hair does adjust over time and learns to produce fewer oils when shampoo use is reduced.
If you try shampooing less or use products such as shampoo bars – please let us know how it went - we’d love to hear your experiences.